Australia’s celebrated Arnhem Land aerospace project, rather than being dedicatedly civilian as the nation was media-led to believe, will have a US military component. Can the town of Nhulunbuy be permitted to survive? Probably not. Rio Tinto’s bauxite mine will soon close and the only other functions of the town are as a servicing hub for local Aboriginal communities and as a staging post for tourism. Obviously, both roles will end. And the Indigenous population? Without access to Songline sites, morale will collapse, and Arnhem Aboriginal culture will go into terminal decline.
The British first came to the coastline of Arnhem land, in the northern territory of Australia, in the beginning of the 19th century.
They discovered summer shelters of the aboriginal people, which were temporary, built with sheets of bark and illustrations on the inside. These illustrations attracted the British and they stole these when the community was not around. Interest grew about these artworks in England by the museums when the colonisers took the art back.
After some 226 years of racism and marginalisation against indigenous people, their art and culture are finally at the forefront of Australian identity. The art “is tens of thousands of years old but also contemporary,” says Cubillo.
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